North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to “fastest possible” his nuclear arsenal and rivals threatened to use them against
This year’s 14th round of weapons firing by North Korea also came six days before a new conservative South Korean president took office for a five-year term.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that the missile was fired from the north’s capital region and took off in waters off its east coast. It called North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches “a serious threat” that would undermine international peace and security and violate UN Security Council resolutions banning any ballistic launches by the North.
South Korea’s JCS president, Won In-chol, held a video conference about the launch with General Paul LaChemera, a US general who heads the South Korea-US Joint Forces Command in Seoul, and how they formed a solid joint defense posture. agreed to keep.
Japan also detected the North Korean launch and immediately condemned it.
“North Korea’s actions that threaten the peace, security and stability of the international community are unacceptable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters during his visit to Rome.
Kishida said he will discuss the launch when he meets with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday. “Naturally, we will be exchanging views on the regional situation in the Indo-Pacific and East Asia, and to gain an understanding of the pressure situation in East Asia, I will look at the reality of the region today, including the North Korean missile launch.” I’ll explain completely,” he said.
Japan’s Deputy Defense Minister Makoto Oniki said the missile was believed to have landed in waters outside the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone. There have been no reports of damage or injury from ships and aircraft in the area.
Unusually fast pace in weapons testing
It was not immediately known which missile North Korea had launched. South Korea’s military said the missile flew about 470 km at an altitude of 780 km, while Japan’s Oniki said it traveled about 500 km at a maximum altitude of 800 km.
North Korea’s unusually fast pace of weapons testing this year underscores its dual goal of advancing its missile programs and pressuring Washington to push for a deeper halt in nuclear talks, experts say .
There are also indications that the North is preparing for a nuclear test at its far northeastern test station. If done, the nuclear bomb test detonation by North Korea would be the seventh of its kind and the first since 2017.
Last week, Kim Jong-un demonstrated his most powerful nuclear-capable missiles, targeting both the United States and its allies during a massive military parade in the capital Pyongyang. During a speech at the parade, Kim said he would develop his arsenal at “the fastest possible pace” and warned that the North would use its nuclear weapons if its national interests were threatened.
Observers say Kim’s dogma appears to be fueling his weapons arsenal and putting more pressure on Washington and Seoul to acknowledge their country as a nuclear state and relax broad international sanctions on it. is for.
Wednesday’s launch comes ahead of the May 10 inauguration of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who called for a boost to Seoul’s missile capability and strengthen its military alliance with Washington to better deal with North Korean nuclear threats. Have sworn.
Yoon’s transition office called North Korea’s latest launch “a serious provocation” and urged Pyongyang to stop escalating tensions and acts that threaten international peace. It said in a statement that the Yun government would “strongly respond to North Korean provocations” in close cooperation with the international community.
North Korea has a history of escalating animosity with weapons testing when Seoul and Washington inaugurated new governments in an apparent bid to boost their gains in future talks.
The US administration’s crackdown on North Korea under Joe Biden has so far been largely limited to symbolic sanctions and proposals for open dialogue. North Korea has rejected the administration’s offer for talks, saying it must first abandon its “hostile policy” in the clear context of US-led international sanctions and US-South Korean joint military exercises.
A US State Department spokesman said on Wednesday, “… like the recent tests of at least three intercontinental ballistic missiles, this launch is a clear violation of a number of UN Security Council resolutions.”